Seattle Police Department Officer Requirements

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) serves a population of approximately 652,000 residents and a geographical area of 143 square miles.1 About 860 sworn officers work for the Seattle PD.1 The department seeks to address local problems and prevent crime through community-based initiatives such as its Micro-Community Policing Plans, which are hyper-local to each unique neighborhood in the Seattle metro area.

Steps to Becoming a SPD Officer

  1. Meet the minimum qualifications for prospective officers (see below).
  2. Pass the civil service exam.
  3. Complete an online application.
  4. Pass the physical fitness test.
  5. Appear for an interview with the hiring board.
  6. Pass the background check and drug test.
  7. Pass the medical exam and psychological evaluation.
  8. Complete police academy training.
  9. Complete four months of field training.
  10. Work as a probationary officer for one year.
  11. Begin working as a tenured Seattle police officer.

How to Become a Seattle, Washington Police Officer

In order to become a police officer in Seattle, candidates must go through a rigorous selection process. Candidates who meet the initial screening requirements outlined below must then pass a physical fitness test and an interview with the hiring board, followed by an extensive background check and drug testing. Applicants must also pass a psychological screening and a medical exam. Once conditionally hired, applicants complete police academy training and a one-year field training and probation period.

Seattle Police Officer Job Description

The role of the Seattle police officer is to protect and serve the people of Seattle. This entails enforcing laws and assisting the public as required. New officers are usually placed in patrol divisions and may patrol on foot or by car or bike, depending on precinct needs. Patrol specialties include Community Policing, Anti-Crime, and undercover work. After three-and-a-half years of patrol work, officers may apply to transfer to one of the many other areas of specialization within the Seattle Police Department.

Seattle Police Officer Training, Prerequisites, and Education Requirements

Applicants must be at least 20.5 years old to be eligible to take the written civil service exam. Candidates also must be US citizens, have a valid Washington state driver's license, and have a high school diploma or GED. Holding an associate's or bachelor's degree can provide an edge over other applicants. Applicants with a history of any adult felony conviction or misdemeanor convictions related to domestic violence will be disqualified. In addition to criminal history, the Seattle Police Department checks financial and employment histories on all applicants.

Selected recruits complete four-and-a-half months of training at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA). Academy graduates are promoted to the rank of Student Officer and complete four weeks of advanced legal and procedural training before being placed in the field with an experienced officer for further training and evaluation. After a one-year probationary period and satisfactory performance, recruits may then be accepted as permanent officers with the Seattle Police Department.

Seattle Police Officer Salary and Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that police officers in the Seattle metro area earn an average annual salary of $82,120.2 During training, recruits earn a monthly salary of $4,964.1 After promotion to the rank of sworn officer, the salary rises to $5,770 per month, or $69,240 per year.1 Periodic step increases based on length of service follow, up to a salary of $90,672 per year after four-and-a-half years of service.1 Lateral entry officers who have prior experience may earn higher base salaries. Benefits for all officers include a four-day work week, paid vacation and sick leave, comprehensive health and life insurance benefits, and a competitive retirement plan. As of 2015, about 3,760 police officers worked in the greater Seattle metro area.2

Contact Information

Twitter: @SeattlePD

Seattle Police Department Headquarters
610 Fifth Ave
Seattle, WA 98124

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What types of Seattle Police Department jobs are there?

Answer: While new officers are typically assigned to patrol, there are many opportunities for experienced officers to work in specialized jobs. Special law enforcement units within the Seattle PD include SWAT, K-9, Investigations, and Harbor Patrol.

Question: How much do Seattle police officers make?

Answer: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average police officer salary in Seattle is $82,120.2 Officer salaries may vary based on differentials for experience, education, and other qualifications.

Question: Do you need a college degree to work for the Seattle PD?

Answer: Applicants for entry-level police jobs in Seattle must have a high school diploma or GED, but are not required to have completed college coursework. However, holding a college degree may open up additional opportunities for advancement within the department.

1. Seattle Police Department:
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett:

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